Between 1976 and 1991, NCES conducted periodic surveys of baccalaureate and master's degree recipients 1 year after graduation with the Recent College Graduates (RCG) Study. The RCG Study—which has been replaced by the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B) (see listing above)—concentrated on those graduates entering the teaching profession. The study linked respondents' major field of study with outcomes such as whether the respondent entered the labor force or was seeking additional education. Labor force data collected included employment status (unemployed, employed part time, or employed full time), occupation, salary, career potential, relation to major field of study, and need for a college degree. To obtain accurate results on teachers, graduates with a major in education were oversampled. The last two studies oversampled education majors and increased the sampling of graduates with majors in other fields.
For each of the selected institutions, a list of graduates by major field of study was obtained, and a sample of graduates was drawn by major field of study. Graduates in certain major fields of study (e.g., education, mathematics, and physical sciences) were sampled at higher rates than were graduates in other fields. Roughly 1 year after graduation, the sample of graduates was located, contacted by mail or telephone, and asked to respond to the questionnaire.
The locating process was more detailed than that in most surveys. Nonresponse rates were directly related to the time, effort, and resources used in locating graduates, rather than to graduates' refusals to participate. Despite the difficulties in locating graduates, RCG response rates are comparable to studies that do not face problems locating their sample membership.
The 1976 study of 1974–75 college graduates was the first, and smallest, of the series. The sample consisted of about 210 schools, of which 200 (96 percent) responded. Of the approximately 5,850 graduates in the sample, 4,350 responded, for a response rate of 79 percent.
The 1981 study was somewhat larger, covering about 300 institutions and 15,850 graduates. Responses were obtained from 280 institutions, for an institutional response rate of 95 percent, and from 9,310 graduates (about 720 others were found not to meet eligibility requirements), for a response rate of 74 percent.
The 1985 study sampled about 400 colleges and 18,740 graduates, of whom 17,850 were found to be eligible. Responses were obtained from 13,200 graduates, for a response rate of 78 percent. The response rate for colleges was 98 percent. The 1987 study sampled 21,960 graduates. Responses were received from 16,880, for a response rate of nearly 80 percent.
The 1991 study sampled about 18,140 graduates of 400 bachelor's and master's degree-granting institutions, including 16,170 bachelor's degrees recipients and 1,960 master's degree recipients receiving diplomas between July 1, 1989, and June 30, 1990. Random samples of graduates were selected from lists stratified by field of study. Graduates in education, mathematics, and the physical sciences were sampled at a higher rate, as were graduates of various racial/ethnic groups, to provide a sufficient number of these graduates for analysis purposes. The graduates included in the sample were selected in proportion to the institution's number of graduates. The unweighted institutional response rate was 95 percent, and the unweighted graduate response rate was 83 percent.
Appendix table A-3 contains respondent counts for number of graduates, by field of study, for the 1976, 1981, 1985, 1987, and 1991 surveys.
Further information on the RCG Study may be obtained from
Postsecondary, Adult, and Career Education Division
Postsecondary Cooperative System, Analysis, and Dissemination Program
National Center for Education Statistics
1990 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006